Father J.P. Narichetti blooms where he is planted

MURRELLS INLET—Father Jesuprathap Narichetti, known as Father J.P. to people in the pews, has traveled a long distance to share the love of Christ.

Faith has led him from the small village where he grew up in southern India to work as a priest thousands of miles from his home country.

He was ordained on April 9, 1992, as a priest for the Diocese of Warangal in India, and is now celebrating his 25th year of priesthood by doing what he loves best — serving others.

“I have been happy in every parish and every place,” Father Narichetti said. “I see it as my responsibility to serve. My mother told me to bloom where you are planted, and that is what I have tried to do.”

A jubilee celebration for Father Narichetti was held during the spring at St. Michael Church, where he has served as parochial vicar for eight months. It is his second time at the large parish. He also was parochial vicar there during his first stint in the diocese in 2007.

The Church has been the center of his life since childhood. Out of 250 families in his home village, 85 percent were Catholic.

Photos by Miscellany/Keith Jacobs: Father Jesuprathap “J.P.” Narichetti, parochial vicar at St. Michael Church in Murrells Inlet, greets parishioners after Mass on Aug. 6. Father Narichetti celebrates his 25th anniversary as a priest this year.

His parents were devout and taught the faith to their four children, and it obviously had an effect. Father Narichetti proudly tells how he chose the priesthood and his youngest sister became a woman religious.

Dozens of priests and religious sisters served his village and the surrounding area, so he also constantly saw examples of strong vocations. One in particular stood out for him.

“I was an altar boy for many, many years, and I remember being struck by a parish priest from Milan, Italy,” Father Narichetti said. “He and his fellow missionaries were such an inspiration to me because they were foreigners leaving their own cultures to serve in another country, having to adjust to a new climate and a new culture. It led me to think that maybe one day I would be a priest and serve God in the same way.”

With the support of his family, he completed university studies and then attended seminary at St. John’s Regional Seminary in Hyderabad, India.

After his ordination, Father Narichetti enjoyed a diverse assortment of assignments in India. Along with work as a parish priest, he directed an orphanage, was principal of a Catholic school, and served many roles at the diocesan level, including work on the education committee and the College of Consultors.

However, the memory of those dedicated Italian missionary priests was always with him.

“I thought they had made such a sacrifice to come to India, why can’t I do the same?” he said. “I wanted to go to another country that needed priests and serve in the way those missionaries did.”

When he heard that many dioceses in the U.S. needed priests, Father Narichetti received permission from his bishop to come to work in the Diocese of Charleston.

Upon arriving in 2007, he quickly learned the challenges of serving a large resident community with a bustling tourist population during his time at St. Michael. After that, he was a parochial vicar at St. Gregory the Great Church in Bluffton and administrator at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church on Folly Beach.

He was called back to India in 2012, then returned to South Carolina in 2014. He was the parochial vicar at St. Anthony Church in Florence and St. Louis Church in Dillon for two years before being assigned again to St. Michael.

So far, his dream of serving God in a foreign country has been all he hoped for, Father Narichetti said.

“I absolutely love working in the Diocese of Charleston,” he said. “People have been so good and receptive in every parish where I have been. They are dedicated to their faith and to receiving the sacraments, and I am so happy here.”

At St. Michael, he especially enjoys the ministry of visiting the sick and celebrating Mass at area nursing homes. He also loves to hear confessions and help out with whatever concerns people bring him.

“I just love being a priest,” he said. “I experience the same paradise wherever I am!”